Najib are you too busy with your lost love to be effective?

As nations are making steady advances forward, no one will slow down and wait for us to catch up.Will  Najib  give up  the least time to life’s most meaningful activities; use the 80-20 life principle to focus and change your life for the better We can hardly expect any miraculous action from the moribund Barisan government. We need a fresh election and fresh government.

The unprecedented scale and scope of the handouts announced shows that BN is scared and running nervous that the voters are fed up with its 55 years of mismanagement and corrupt rule.

The 2013 Budget seems to have allocated a large sum of money to be distributed to the people, through programmes such as BR1M 2.0, book vouchers for college students, vouchers for primary and secondary school students and smartphone rebates for young people.

However, the amount that will be given out to cronies – and that which will be wasted through corruption – far surpasses this amount…


Mahathir says thanks for continuous support molesting nationalism  is intolerable Former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad claimed that American billionaire George Soros was funding local NGOs in an attempt to install a prime minister that would do his bidding. Don’t most of us feel that way? Like there is a wilder, more dynamic, adventurous and more spirited … Read more FEAST OF FOOLS: MAHATHIR’S OLIGARCHY AND OUR SENSE OF SHAME

Let us remind ourselves that the Budget wasn’t Najib’s gift to us Malaysians. He’s not giving us anything that’s not ours already. It’s our gift to him asking him to manage our finances carefully. And his government hasn’t done well at all. This is the 16th deficit budget. But we are ahead of ourselves. More of that later.

We must remind ourselves that the finance minister is asking to appropriate a sum of money from the consolidated fund to be applied to specific purposes. In other words, he is doing the asking. We must ask him politely to desist from all the sneering and cynicism that only an immature and childish person does.

We expected the finance minister what more when he is also the PM to act with decorum respecting the tradition of adversarial debates in Parliament. The Opposition leader was honourable enough to hear the PM drone on, the PM is not on hand to see and hear what the MP from Permatang Pauh has to day. Instead his stand in debates by correcting pronunciations and so forth. The government which trivialises and dismisses our legitimate representatives ought to be dismissed very soon.

The finance minister is asking OUR money. The money his government has collected from 10 per cent of the 10-million workforce. The money he collected from oil revenue, port revenue, from our forests, from our mines. He would have collected more from our GLCs if GLCs have done their jobs well and made profits. Instead we know that most GLCs are sorry excuses for Umno warlords to pilfer money from.

That was why he begun by asking Mr Speaker Sir, I beg to move the Bill entitled “An Act to apply a sum from the Consolidated Fund for the service of the year 2013 and to appropriate that sum for the service of that year” be read a second time.

Once we set that aside, then we can remind ourselves that the money he wants to give out isn’t his in the first place. It’s ours. His government is managing our collective money. So when you ask money from us, please do so politely. It’s the mark of immaturity and infantile behaviour of the highest order, when the presentation of such a serious bill is laced with arrogance, sneering and driven by the obsession of scoring points over His Majesty’s Opposition. Whatever was positively presented earlier was completely nullified by his concluding remarks.

It’s us you need to convince not Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang or Haji Hadi. You certainly aren’t doing that with your arrogant showmanship.

I need to say HM’s Opposition since Umno and its supporters forget, the opposition has legitimacy. Also, in Selangor, Penang, Kelantan and Kedah, Umno IS the Opposition. Don’t you have legitimacy over there?

Here are some positive points about the Budget. The 2013 Budget was presented better than the 2012 Budget. At least this time the finance minister didn’t waste too much time camouflaging the lack of substance with flowery language. He tells us quickly how much is next year’s proposed spending and admits this is a deficit budget. Our revenue is expected to be RM208.6 billion. It increased slightly over last year’s revenue of RM207.2 billion. That is, revenue increased by 0.68 per cent.

Except for the unnecessary mudslinging, next year’s proposed budget is presented businesslike. That’s where the positivity ends because after that, he doesn’t understand the business of managing our economy.

The world economy

He doesn’t seem to know what’s happening to the world economy. Therefore he can’t quite get his mind to decide how to describe the world economy. Early on he says the world economy is uncertain only in order to suggest that he can handle our economy better. At other places he says, the world economy is improving in order to suggest, our economy will also benefit from an improving world economy.

The economy outside hasn’t got any long-term solutions yet. The economy of Europe is in the doldrums. They are in that position because of the policies that are being played out in this country of ours. If we continue what BN does, we will also go that route. We have low productivity, high costs, bloated and inefficient bureaucracy infested with rampant corruption. We do mega projects at questionable costing lending credibility to suspicions that all these are propped up project providing excuses for cronies to make money.

As a person coming from Pekan, I have only one hope. That come GE13, despite winning in Pekan but losing nationwide, the Umno division office bearers will stand holding hands on the new Sultan Abu Bakar Bridge in Pekan to jump all at once into the river. They must do that in unison, because no one dares do it alone. There isn’t anyone brave enough in Umno nowadays. The dirty work is farmed out to the Umo youth leader who is being arrowed even by his Umno counterparts. At other times, Umno’s dirty work is contracted out to Ibrahim Ali, Zul Nordin, Ezam Mat Nor and the man who wants to correct the Muslim’s aqidah.

Alas, if there are crocodiles in the Pahang River, they will refuse to eat the Umno people up fearing they in turn will lose the hunting skills.

Our Bourse reflects a healthy economy?

The optimism with our stock exchange is misplaced. Sixty-five to 70 per cent of the companies listed are not performing well at all and deserved to be PN4ed! Their shares are not traded at all. The high index is the result of the big numbers scored by a few major players. It certainly does not reflect the state of our economy. The SC must cleanse its Aegean Stables first before admitting others who want to sucker the public. Our economy is not a paper economy la Mr Finance Minister. The health of our economy must be judged in terms of the real economy- productivity, asset building, capacity building, exports, and all that.

The new IPOs he triumphantly declared will only suck in more public money and the savings people give up to buy shares will be converted into paper money. There are no direct benefits unless stock buyers sell higher than IPO prices. If the settlers haven’t sold their 800 units right after the IPO, they will have to wait a long time to see any profit. The FGV will go the KUB way. The shares in the KL Bourse will nosedive as our economy continues to be pillaged and raped by UMNO-linked players.

Affordable housing

Who the hell is advising him on the construction of affordable homes? The homes will be constructed by PR1MA with an average price of RM150,000. Who can afford the houses at that price? Our new graduates earning RM2,500 pcm? That’s all a load of BS. When he announces that PR1MA will build 5,000 new homes in Negri Sembilan, I have to ask my friends where? NS practically has no squatters. People already have homes in Seremban, Rembau, Kuala Kelawang, Nilai, Jelebu or wherever. The pressure of demand for housing is in the Klang Valley where people work. Even SPNB has practically surrendered to build houses in Klang Valley.

So I ask where is the logic to build houses in Negeri Sembilan. Unless of course the real reason is to enrich PR1MA which is headed by Jamaludin Jarjis. Najib has got his priorities wrong.

It will be easy for Pakatan Rakyat to repair the damage done by Najib’s government. It’s no big deal. We have a simple rule. If we want to damage the country, give it to BN. If we want the make the country worse off, let BN do the repairing.

Why is Umno/BN so obsessed with having to know what is PR’s shadow cabinet? We don’t even have BN’s shadow cabinet because they are not sure they will be in parliament come GE13.

Sundry businessmen have urged the government to come out with a revival package. Sorry, but the current malaise cannot be tackled by a tax cut here or an interest rate cut there. There’s a deep structural problem.

Car excise duty collection from 2007 till last year totalled RM30.2 billion, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak told the Dewan Rakyat today.

A total of RM4.7 billion was collected in 2007, RM6.2 billion (2008), RM5.7 billion (2009), RM7.1 billion (2010) and RM6.5 billion last year, said Najib, who is also Finance Minister, in his written reply to Hee Loy Sian (DAP-Petaling Jaya Selatan) during question time.

Hee wanted to know the total car excise duty collected between 2007 and last year and whether the Finance Ministry intends to lower car excise duty with a view to reduce car prices for the people’s benefit.

Najib said car prices are determined by several factors and not merely based on the tax rate.

Production, transportation, advertisement and distribution costs as well as carmakers and distributors profit are elements that ascertained car prices, Najib said.

“These elements are beyond government control. Hence, any proposal to lower car prices has to be studied thoroughly so that the outcome can really benefit the people besides helping to bolster competition in the local automotive sector in the long-term,” he added.

Will we be like South Korea gaining a place in the league of high-income countries 10 years down the road? Or will we stay where we are, stuck in the quagmire of lower to middle income group?

Or worse, we find ourselves stepping into the shoes of Greece?

Whether it is BN or Pakatan that will take the helm, the administrators in Putrajaya have to come to terms with the same challenges.

The question is: do we have the competitive edge?

Without competitiveness, we will be forever stuck in the ranks of second or even third rate countries, and become the Asian version of Greece.

In his book “The Competitive Advantage of Nations”, Harvard’s Professor Mark Porter analysed the competitive strategies of several nations and what have contributed to their success or failure.

He wrote that the success of the Japanese economy lay with its competitive edge, the Japanese style management from production technology, production flow to quality control as well as organisation and company culture that saw the Japanese economy taking off in a big way, overtaking many old economic powerhouses.

Porter pointed out that when other nations started to duplicate Japan’s success formula, it was Japan itself that began to lose its competitive edge. With products of other countries now closing the gap in terms of quality, a new phase of “competition integration” ensued, as nations launched aggressive price wars to win over markets, sinking the Japanese manufacturers in deep crisis.

This book was written more than two decades ago at a time when the Japanese economy peaked, its products selling like hot cakes in all countries and its conglomerates wildly pursuing priced assets worldwide. It was the time when the Americans worried their country could one day be reduced to an economic subordinate of Japan.

Japan subsequently came under triple assault: the Americans overtook them in high-end production, the Koreans in medium range production, and China in low-end production.

Today, Japanese companies rush to downsize, retrench, and wind up. Japan has relinquished its erstwhile competitive advantage and economic vibrancy.

Porter was no foreseer, but he made accurate predictions of Japan’s destiny based on his theories on competition. He opined that Japan’s strength lay only with its operational efficiency, not absolute competitive edge.

A country’s true competitive edge should be built around its ability to develop its own economic realms and unique economic models based on its natural, economic and cultural conditions, creating for itself an insurmountable lead.

Such competitive edge is only possible with good governance, entrepreneurial capability as well as mass participation.

Malaysia has been able to sustain its economic development, now and in the past, through heavy dependence on OEM, commodity planting, and exports of natural resources.

OEM requires an enormous, inexpensive labour force which we lack; our commodity planting now plays second fiddle to our neighbours in the region, while natural resources like petroleum and natural gas are seeing dwindling production.

It doesn’t take an expert to visualise that none of these constitutes the country’s long-term competitive edge. The several key projects under the government’s transformation programme have failed to gain broad public acceptance, including the Rapid project in Pengerang.

In the meantime, political parties and organisations continue to be locked in endless tussles over all sorts of issues, holding the country back in its course.

As nations are making steady advances forward, no one will slow down and wait for us to catch up. —

Politics is supposedly public service, but it has become the biggest business of all. Controls imposed in supposed pursuit of high ideals are routinely used to extract enormous sums from all business actors.has constituted an unwritten “social contract” between politics and business.But no more. Public anger at corruption has exploded, upsetting old equations. The comptroller and auditor general has become a public hero. Anna Hazare’s stature as an anti-corruption crusader may have been diminished, but the anger he once represented remains great.

However, for faster growth we need not only less corruption but a total overhaul of rules to make clearances more automatic. Forget leftist accusations that India is following neo-liberal policies. The continuing web of controls, and the corruption it makes possible, shows that the real problem is illiberalism in a new form. Call it neo-illiberalism. We must end a neo-illiberal system that makes honest business impossible, makes entrepreneurs dependent on favours from above, and rewards crookedness over honesty.

Strong evidence of illiberalism comes from the annual Doing Business reports of the IFC/World Bank. In the 2011 report, India was a lowly 132nd of 183 countries in overall ease of doing business. In ease of starting a new business, India did worse — it came 166th. In ease of getting a construction permit —a prime area of corruption— India was 179th, or fourth last in the world. In enforcement of contract—something supposedly essential for any business

Without infrastructure, an economy cannot grow. Industry and services cannot expand without highways,

Infrastructure now faces a huge funding gap of hundreds of billions of dollars. This cannot be filled by additional government funding. The government is already struggling to contain a huge fiscal deficit. Any spare cash will go to pre-election goodies, not projects.

So, infrastructure is being starved of both private and public sector funds. India’s future growth is in danger. Urgent measures are required to make the sector viable and capable of attracting capital.

A country’s true competitive edge should be built around its ability to develop its own economic realms and unique economic models based on its natural, economic and cultural conditions, creating for itself an insurmountable lead.

Such competitive edge is only possible with good governance, entrepreneurial capability as well as mass participation.

Malaysia has been able to sustain its economic development, now and in the past, through heavy dependence on OEM, commodity planting, and exports of natural resources.

OEM requires an enormous, inexpensive labour force which we lack; our commodity planting now plays second fiddle to our neighbours in the region, while natural resources like petroleum and natural gas are seeing dwindling production.

Many rich countries have struggled for three years to emerge fully from the Great Recession of 2008-09. Alas, the world is slipping into a new recession. No global authority has dared say so, but the writing is on the wall.

A classic lead indicator of a global recession is a crash in commodity prices, which is evident today. Brent crude, the benchmark variety that determines Gulf oil prices for India, has fallen from $125/barrel in January to barely $ 90/barrel. Major global commodity indices have slumped over 20%. Mittal and Tata are closing some global steel plants because of falling demand. Prices of non-ferrous metals, cotton, coal and iron ore have crashed.

This reflects decelerating or falling GDP growth across the globe, and growing realization that conditions will remain depressed for some time. Europe has long been a troubled zone, but the US economy is stalling while ominous negative signs emanate from China. The Eurozone was predicted to have a mild recession starting October 2011 and ending by the summer of 2012. The region slid down in the October-December quarter and then, thanks to a good German performance, stabilized in the January-March quarter. But the latest data show European growth plummeting in the April-June quarter, with even German factories suffering the sharpest contraction since June 2009. The UK, which is outside the Eurozone, is deeply in double-dip recession.

Optimists think that even if rich countries get into trouble, the strength and resilience of fast-growing emerging markets — above all China — will stem the rot. Alas, China is slowing down too. The HSBC Purchasing Managers’ Index shows that Chinese manufacturing has actually fallen in May and June.

China’s slowdown has hit Japan, which depends on exports to that destination. Japan is now running trade deficits month after the month, for the first time in decades. This is a game-changer.

The global fall in commodity prices has sent shock waves through all countries that prospered by riding the commodity boom, including Brazil and Russia. India, a net commodity importer, should gain from falling prices. Yet its GDP growth has plummeted too.

There is a standard remedy for recessions. Governments cut interest rates, provide easy money, and run large fiscal deficits to revive demand. Alas, these strategies have very limited scope today because the world is already replete with loose monetary and fiscal policies thanks to attempts to regain momentum after the 2008-09 Great Recession. Interest rates are at or below 1% in Europe, Japan and the US. The US Federal Reserve and European Central Bank (ECB) have injected trillions of dollars and euros respectively into their regions, breaking all records in easy money.

Recent elections have brought to power parties in France and Greece saying there is too much austerity, so the region must aim for growth too. The IMF and several economists across the world echo this sentiment. Yet the claim of excessive austerity has been debunked by Josef Joffe in the Financial Times. The ECB Bank has injected trillions of euros into the region, including ultra-cheap money to banks, massive contributions to rescue funds, and large-scale purchases of government bonds.

In 2011, fiscal deficits as a proportion of GDP were 13% in Ireland, 9% in Greece, 8.5% in Spain, and 4% in Portugal and Italy. Even France and Holland, supposedly non-crisis countries, had fiscal deficits of 5%. The Maastricht Treaty forbade anything over 3%. When Maastricht rules are so massively violated, is the problem really excessive austerity? No, the real problem is the structural madness of creating the Eurozone, a monetary union without a political union.

This fundamental blunder remains intact with no prospect of early resolution. A Eurozone break-up would cause massive chaos and misery for a year or two, after which economies would pick up. Trying to save the Eurozone will mitigate immediate misery, but ensure that it continues for years till it becomes politically intolerable.

Europeans refuse to confront the dilemma squarely. Instead, they are devising quick-fixes for the immediate problems of Eurozone banks and governments. Germany may approve some growth measures, and relax objections to direct ECB lifelines to stricken banks and debt-ridden governments. This can put off the day of reckoning, but cannot cure the underlying disease of an ill-conceived monetary union.

Many analysts (including me) have said that Malaysia ’s GDP growth slump to 5.3% in the January-March quarter cannot be blamed on the Eurozone crisis alone, and reflects paralysis and bad policy at home. This will now be compounded by a new global slump. We can hardly expect any miraculous action from the moribund Barisan government. We need a fresh election and fresh government.

What is the way forward? The response of the Barisan government to corruption charges must not be to simply brazen it out, or point fingers at state governments run by other parties. The UMNO needs to come out with a purposive programme to slash hurdles for business, make clearance automatic, and demonstrate that honest business can thrive. Many of the permits required UMNO must move ahead with aggressive reforms

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